Monday, November 2, 2015

How Well Does Facebook Really Know You?

    Think about this…. you are just a normal person spending the average amount time (or more time than you would like to admit) on Facebook. You click on a couple of links each time, but each time you click on that ink or like a photo your data is recorded.

    The data that you have unknowingly created is used to create a filter bubble for your personal Facebook account. 
    According to Eli Pariser the filter bubble produces customized results from search engines that are geared toward the individual based on that person's past search preferences. It means two peoples searching for the same thing receive a different sequence of results. 

    Putting this into Facebook terms this means that when you start to click on certain links and interact with certain friends Facebook will cut those things that you do not “like” or “share” out of your newsfeed, and essentially out of your life.

    Before I started to write this post I sat down and began to scroll through my Facebook to see if I recognized any certain accounts that did not make the filter bubble cut, or any certain trends. I was in many ways shocked with what I found, but the results confirmed that the filter bubble does exists. My Facebook newsfeed is consumed by photos of most of my friends, links my friends have shared, and various articles from places like: E! Online, People, and Vogue. The friends’ photos that come up the most are those who I tag in photos or whose photos I often “like”. When it comes to the links that are shared on my news feed they are all very random, and I did not understand where those came from because I am not one to click on a lot of the shared links. The article that are displayed for me are all article from the top three places that I usually tend to click on while I am on Facebook.

    The real question is how does Facebook know that this is actually working. Well the answer to that is simple, according to an article in TIME magazine, every week they have a group of employees scroll through their personal Facebook accounts and intensely look at each and everything that comes up on their newsfeeds to see if they are relevant to their lives and relate to other links that they have been clicking on.  

The filter bubble introduces three dynamics:
  1. You are all alone, the bubble is pulling people apart.
  2. The filter bubble is invisible and no one really knows exactly how it works.
  3. You do not chose to enter the bubble; the bubble comes to you.

    After listing these three dynamics, it probably has become more apparent that the filter bubble can be good because there is so much information in this world and we can not focus on it all. Therefore, we need the filter bubble in our lives. The filter bubble however does have a lot of backlash because there is less room for encounters with new information that can bring insight into your life. The bubble does tend to cut many "friends" out of your "cyber life", and this one complaint that a lot of people have when it comes to Facebook using the filter bubble.  The filter bubble can affect your ability to chose how you want to live.   

    In conclusion, the filter bubble can turn into a dangerous thing very quickly, but if used the right way it can be a very helpful tool that will draw more users to Facebook. Eli Pariser also stated in a TED Talk that the most important thing we can do to ensure that the bubble remains positive is recognize that it exists, and we also need to look at different things that we may not be interested in to expand our horizons.    


  1. I agree that filter bubbles can be a dangerous thing and that they can be useful in narrowing the unprecedented amount of information online. I don't fully see filter bubbles as good though. They edit out information unknowingly to the user. This can be harmful in making people more narrow-minded in beliefs because of information they are feed.

  2. The filter bubble is a scary thing in my opinion. The fact that some type of machine, robot, system whatever it is controls what we see on the never-ending internet. You're right when it comes to Facebook. My entire Newsfeed is pictures, posts and shares from my Theta sisters. Nothing else reaches the surface because I reactivated my Facebook once I joined the sorority. We live in a filter bubble regardless of whether or not we use Facebook or the internet in general. Even, the newspaper we choose to read filters content for us, as do bloggers, TV, Radio etc. The filter bubble is not a new concept. Before the internet, the filter bubble was based on real social friendships, which papers you read etc. The filter bubble controls how we conceive the world and constraints the ability to discover new, raw information not linked to our previous searches and clicks.